For nearly 70 years, Harvard’s scholarly outpost at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C., has housed one of the world’s greatest collections of material relating to Byzantine studies, while also providing an academic home for some of the field’s foremost scholars (see “Home of the Humanities,” May-June 2008, page 48). As of this fall, after more than a decade of planning, it will also give its name to a new series of medieval texts published by Harvard University Press (HUP)–making a bit of Dumbarton Oaks more accessible in Cambridge (and everywhere else) than ever before.
The Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (DOML) is modeled on the 512-volume (and growing) Loeb Classical Library, whose distinctive, tidy green and red hardcover editions of Greek and Latin texts with facing-page translations have become an informal emblem of classical studies during the past century (see “Renewal of a Classic,” September-October 1993, page 48). The new venture began in the late 1990s with Porter professor of medieval Latin Jan Ziolkowski’s wish for a similar public face for medieval literature. Now general editor of DOML, Ziolkowski recalls that there “wasn’t really anything that could serve the same functions as the Loeb for the medieval period, and that was a frustration for me as I thought about trying to communicate my field to a wider public.” The project incubated until Ziolkowski was appointed director of Dumbarton Oaks in the summer of 2007, when he began to discuss the process of bringing it into existence with HUP.